Arlington, VA

What’s Next with Nicole is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

Arlington is a beautiful community with so much to be proud of.

For my last column of the year, here are some things that have been special to me, that I recommend, or that I want to acknowledge.

Arlington Heros

For 37 years Kip was a staple in thousands of Arlington student’s lives. In athletics he ran the Patriot Girls Hoops Summer Camp, coached Yorktown girls basketball, boys baseball, and the Special Olympics unified track and basketball teams.

More notably, he was a good friend. I don’t think many people knew his actual job, but as I have grown older I realized how important it was to have a non-parent adult at APS that you could always go to without judgement, and Kip was that person. Happy retirement, Kip.

Arlington County Police said goodbye to one really good boy this year. Koda was one of the best bomb sniffers in the region and spent time with his SRO handler welcoming students. Rest in peace and thank you for your service, Koda.

Civic Organizations

A powerful and consistent voice for our tree canopy. Arlington’s trees are what make us less of a concrete urban jungle and more of a livable, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing community to live in.

  • Black Parents of Arlington

If you didn’t read their Washington Post Op-Ed, I highly recommend it: Why black parents of Arlington are joining forces 

Date Ideas

Make sure you or the person you are with knows how to tie a figure 8 knot and belay! Rock climbing is a great way to cheer someone on, overcome failure, and get your endorphins running.

  • Neighborhood events

Local organizations provide great events like Fridays at the Fountain in Crystal City, Rosslyn Movies in the park, and more. Find a full list for your neighborhood: Ballston BID, Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, Crystal City BID, Lee Highway Alliance, and Rosslyn BID,

Artists

Music

A Grateful Dead sound and some killer guitar solos. Having played with Junior Marvin of the Wailers these native Arlington twins are sure to get you grooving. Next local concert: Jan. 21 7:30pm @ Jammin’ Java.

With over 1 million Spotify streams on their hit, Tired Boy, this local rap group of Arlingtonians is truly a group to keep an eye on.

Paint

You can see this Arlington local’s work at the newly opened Open Road Grill in Rosslyn with his district vibrant portraits of Ryan Zimmerman and Bruce Springstein.

Queen of the “polka daub” you can see her art at local gift boutique, Covet.

Workout

My daily routine of heated baptiste vinyasa yoga that not only leaves you dripping in sweat from the cardio flow, but also helps with back alignment, builds lean strength in your arms, and tones your legs and glutes. Now on Groupon for a great deal.

Starting in Shirlington, running through Bluement to East Falls Church, ending in Purcellville. 45 miles of trail allows you to run or bike this trail for a while.

Beauty

A high-end consignment store. Get a used Marc Jacobs dress for ~$40. Look great for not too much.

The price is right and they provide an excellent student discount for anyone under 23. I’ve been going here since they opened and staff is super friendly and attentive.

A Weekend Trip

  • Rappahannock/Madison/Page County Shenandoah Getaway

Take a short drive to the beautiful Shenandoah. Head out with family or group of friends for a day or weekend of fun hikes, breweries/distilleries, fishing, and a burgeoning arts scene.

Recommended activities: Hike Old Rag & Stony Man Mountain; Drink at Pen Druid Brewing & River Hill Distillery; Check out art at Sperryville ARTist Cooperative or any Rappahannock Association for the Arts event; and find a good spot for fly-fishing through the National Parks Service or a guided experience from permitted local business.

Become a Regular at Spirits of ’76 or Meridian Pint!

Food Favorites

In closing, #FIGHTFINISHED, and I would sprain an ankle to hang out with Caps Pup. See you next year!

Nicole Merlene is an Arlington native and former candidate for Virginia State Senate. She has served as a leader in the community on the boards of the Arlington County Civic Federation and North Rosslyn Civic Association, as an Arlington Economic Development commissioner, in neighborhood transportation planning groups, and as a civic liaison to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

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